Monday, December 5, 2016

Trigger Warnings: Why You Should Shut the Hell Up About Them

I'm putting a trigger warning at the beginning of one of my soon to be released books, Storm, because there is a graphic rape scene in it. It is not to protect people from things that might offend them. It is to let people know that there is a scene in the book in which a character is raped. It does not cut away. You are with her for the entire ordeal and it describes what she suffers. It is based on sexual assault descriptions given to my by women I have known personally and professionally in describing their own sexual assaults, so it is very realistic and very intense. It will be troubling for readers with PTSD about sexual assault, though I allowed several women I know who have this to read the chapter ahead of time and they said that they were able to get through it, though it was hard. They believed it was handled with taste and will give people who have not endured this some much needed insight into what a woman (or man) goes through when this occurs to them. The warning will give the chapter in which this occurs, as well as when in the chapter they should stop reading if they wish to skip it entirely, or prepare themselves for it if they decide they want to try to work through it. It was either that or self-sensor my work, which I am strongly opposed to doing, and the rape scene is crucial to understanding a very important character in the book and her development as a person. It also has an effect on things that happen later in the book. It is not a sexy scene. It's horrifying and troubling and should outrage anyone reading it. Anyone who makes fun of my use of a trigger warning to shield people from this content can drink a highball of shut-the-fuck-on on the rocks with twist. I care more about my readers than I do about some knuckle dragging right-winger who thinks trigger warnings are about keeping college kids from having to read Hucklberry Finn because it has the n-word in it, meanwhile they throw a hissy fit anytime you use terms like "white privileged," "homophobia," or "Happy Holidays." Or, when I call alt-right what it really is: white-nationalist fascism. So if my use of a trigger warning to protect people who have survived sexual assault offends someone, they shouldn't read my book. They wouldn't like it, anyway. In addition to killing monsters and feeding child molesters to vampires, Max is a militant liberal social worker with a Prius full of guns and magical powers that he probably got from a demon or some shit. Oh and he's also an atheist. So, they probably wouldn't like him, and he definitely wouldn't like them.


The people making fun of trigger warnings will likely point out that they aren't mocking trigger warnings like THIS. They are mocking people who abuse them to get out of having to read things they find offensive or that they just don't want to deal with. Sure, that probably happens. Just like there are people who abuse prescription narcotics while people who need them have to jump through hoops to get them. Or people who get food stamps and SSI when they don't really need them, while people who do need them have to fight to get them or hold on to them once they have them. I have no doubt that occurs. Literally any good thing we do to help people is going to be abused by someone. That doesn't mean we don't do it, and it doesn't mean we stigmatize those things. Do you want a woman who has panic attacks when her PTSD is triggered about her violent rape to go through that just to keep some jackass hipster from being able to whine about having to read that? When you make fun of trigger warnings, you shame people about using trigger warnings, which leads to them pushing themselves to face something they may not be ready to face. You will probably say that they HAVE to face these things to recover properly. That's true, they do. THROUGH THERAPY and AT THEIR OWN PACE. It's not your place to tell them when, where, and how they face this. If my book helps someone face something traumatic that happened to them, that's fantastic. I want them to choose this. I'm not going to force it on them. Have you considered that trigger warnings might actually facilitate this purpose? If someone KNOWS this content is in a book, and wishes to begin that healing process, now they know it's there.